by Dave Margoshes
Having lived a long, eventful life, Charlie Weinheimer’s only regret is that he has no one to carry on after him. After a near-death experience, he resolves to find out whether a secret buried in his past is proof he has a legacy after all.
“Margoshes gives us the life of Charlie Weinheimer: quadruple bypass patient, widower whose children all die tragically young, but not a whiner. In his hospital bed at age seventy-seven, he’s seen it all, right? Well, maybe not. Watch as Margoshes calls upon his raconteur skills to thicken the plot.”
— David Carpenter, winner of the 2010 Saskatchewan Book Award for A Hunter’s Confession
HAD A MASSIVE HEART attack last year.
Damn near died! Was halfway there, and a most interesting experience toward the end of the critical time. I was taken to the hospital in a car at 2 a.m. by my friend, Mabel Austin, a crusty old gal who takes sass from no one and spares no one her own. She rushed inside and got the security and another man to get me on a cart. I was sitting for what seemed a long, long time on the edge of the car seat in a parking lot outside of the Emergency door, expecting to get jumped by a mugger. I was going to go with a piece of him in my teeth.
Also, I was weighing my chances of making it, or not making it.
Out of my mind with pain but at the same time thinking damn clear.
No fright, though. I was ready to go but regretted I hadn’t made some arrangements to dodge the mortuary and morticians. I’ve made them now. I’ve collected my medical history (most of it, anyway), my body goes to a medical college. When the med student looks at it and wonders what the hell this guy did, what he went through, he will have the documents to tell him. And quite a story it is, too, what with a few scars I picked up walking up and down the Korean Peninsula in a machine-gun rainstorm. Well, that was a long time ago.
They put me under with Demerol and it was a pleasure to let go of that pain, I can tell you that. I became a junky for a few days while in Intensive Care. That was okay.
While I was going under, I called for my Mabel. But the doctors were too busy doing a quadruple bypass or something of that sort on me to get her until later. Mabel told the surgeon that she’d actually meant to take me to the other hospital, about twice as far away, but got her signals crossed somehow. He told her that if she had she most likely would have arrived with a dead man beside her.
Pretty close, but I did not see St. Peter, nor the Golden Gates, didn’t hear any harps or other types of heavenly music. I was just waiting for some guy to jump me in the parking lot, and even that didn’t happen.
Afterwards, though, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d been robbed after all, stripped of something valuable I’d never be able to reclaim.
Still, all in all, I came out okay. Nothing like a close call to sharpen the mind, though, isn’t that what they say? Focus it? I came home from the hospital with a certain resolve. Live a better life, be a better fellow. When you’re as old as I am, it’s easy to make resolutions—you only have the rest of your life to stick with them, after all.
I’ve never been much of a drinker, certainly no one who ever had to go to an AA meeting, but I’ve had a few friends who’ve had their sorry lives turned around. There’s one of the steps of the big twelve where you go round asking people to forgive you. Asking for trouble, seems to me. Happened to me more than once, fella comes along says he wants me to forgive him for such and such, something I never was even aware of or was but had forgotten about. Might still be stuck in this guy’s craw, but to me it was never a big deal. But now, he calls it to my attention, maybe I get sore, hell, no, I don’t forgive you! See what I mean? In my case, as it happens, I’m an easy-going sort, and forgiving by nature. But what if you aren’t?
What if a fella came along and says, “Look, I slept with your wife, oh, years back, I was a drunk then, didn’t know what I was doing. I want to apologize, heartfelt as all get out. Please forgive me.” Well, depending on your temperament, you might deck this fella or worse, and do the same to your wife later—or, if you have a sense of humour, you might say, “Whatd’ya mean, you didn’t know what you were doing?”
Rife with danger, that’s the way I see the whole exercise.
about the author
DAVE MARGOSHES' books include three novels, five volumes of poetry and a biography. God Telling a Joke and Other Stories will be his seventh collection of short fiction. He's had stories and poems published in dozens of magazines and anthologies in Canada and the United States (included six times in Best Canadian Stories), had work broadcast on CBC, and given readings and workshops across the country. He was a finalist for the Journey Prize in 2009. Along the way, he’s won a few awards, including the Stephen Leacock Prize for Poetry in 1996, the John V. Hicks Award for fiction in 2001 and the City of Regina Writing Award twice, in 2004 and 2010. His Bix’s Trumpet and Other Stories was Book of the Year at the Saskatchewan Book Awards and a finalist for the ReLit Award in 2007, and his poetry collection, Dimensions of an Orchard, won the Anne Szumigalski Poetry Prize at the 2010 Saskatchewan Book Awards. His A Book of Great Worth was one of Amazon.Ca’s Top Hundred Books of 2012.
by this author
Decades ago, when bands like the Everly Brothers rode the airwaves and vacancy signs shone like beacons in the night, a young man gets his first taste of love, loss, and the ethereal satisfaction that comes with knowing that the world is turning and life is being lived.
from the library
On an isolated English beach a man looks back on his school days, recalling the joy and torment of a secret love affair with a boy full of strange ideas, a boy obsessed with the language of the King James Bible. Moments from their relationship return to him: the hidden meetings on the beach, the first attempts at sex, the boredom of a school assembly in summertime, the cruelty of a young English teacher. But most of all he remembers the boy’s words. They’re words that, years later, will haunt him as he tries to come to terms with the person he has become.
“Psalm 77 is the type of story that one wants to read over and over, searching for meanings previously unseen. It is laced with the hidden, the secret, the sacred. From the sand dunes and their private longings in school to the verses, the imagery, and the final paragraphs, there is so much to uncover . . ." (Read full review)
— Amanda Miller from shortsundone.ca
At the Chickasaw Motel, three generations of the McGuinness clan are led by their elderly and overbearing patriarch. Only little Riley, “the smartest f-ing kid”, is spared the brunt of Grandpa McGuinness’s cruelty; ironically, it is his encouragement that provides her with a way out.
The depredations of a corrupt local government and the ravages of a harsh prairie winter force an ostracized but self-sufficient widow to open her home to innocents with nowhere else to turn. Journey Prize finalist Seyward Goodhand's effortless storytelling allows the humanity to shine through in this grim take on a classic tale.
A small-time internet scammer is shaken from her somewhat safe new life when an investigator arrives with questions to do with her erstwhile "period of moral decline" — specifically, the whereabouts of a young woman whose brief, bright friendship nearly steered her from the stability she now craves.
Toronto in the twenty-first century: At night, a beacon on a lonely ancient lake, a drainage pond from the last ice age. In the daytime, a bulwark of glass, glinting in the radiant sun. Joe, Mary, and her cat, Sam, sit in a lakeside condo, trapped by a crazed, mysterious sniper. What has become of their lives? What has become of their city? What has become of their century? As the situation begins to unravel, Mary finds herself wondering, “What would Margaret Atwood do?”
The anarchic relationships holding together a group of teen girls - whose lines between love and hate, jealousy and loyalty, are not so much drawn as they are furiously scribbled - are put to the test at an unforgettable birthday party. This story captures all the angst and uncertainty of adolescence, with prose as sharp and jarring as a smashed kaleidoscope.
“Rarely an author comes along whose work hits you with the impact of a slap. I have had this experience with the work of Jayne Anne Phillips, with Lorrie Moore and Mary Gaitskill; most recently I have felt this on discovering the writing of Kirsty Logan. Her work is elegant, minimal, and innovative, but underlying it all is a great passion. If the world is a place where talent is recognised—in time, I believe, we may come to say her name alongside the aforementioned.”
— Ewan Morrison, author of Swung